Friday, June 27, 2014

Back From Another Trip to Southeast Alaska

So no blog last week, but that was because I was on my second trip to Southeast Alaska in about a month.  The stops this time were Juneau and Sitka.  Elaine and I had visited Juneau several years ago, but this was our first trip to Sitka.  The purpose of the trip was research for Volume III of Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska, which will cover Southeast Alaska. We didn't get to spend a ton of time in either town, but we were there long enough to tour both Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau and Baranof Island Brewing Company in Sitka.

We'd toured Alaskan Brewing on our previous visit to Juneau in 2007, but the brewery has grown considerably since then, and more expansion is underway.  I've toured plenty of big breweries Outside, but it seemed really strange to be walking through such a big operation (about 145,000 barrels produced last year) in Alaska.

Checking out Alaskan's 100 barrel copper with Andy Kline.  Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell.

Alaskan's Tap Room & Gift Shop. Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell.
There expansion seems to be proceeding on schedule, and will provide them with some much needed space to expand their packing operation, as well as allowing them to move between their two current existing buildings using forklifts rather than trucks.  On the beer front, I got to sample one of their Rough Drafts, a very nice golden ale, light and refreshing.  It would be the perfect beer for a nice sunny summer day, if they ever get any of those in Southeast.  I also sampled a bottle of the next Pilot Series release, this year's version of their Imperial Red Ale.  It was nicely balanced and delicious.

Traveling on to Sitka, we visited Baranof Island Brewing Company, which was the only operating brewery in the state that I had not yet visited.  It was a Friday afternoon and by the time we left, the Tap Room was full of folks, enjoying a relaxing drink after a long week of work.  The brewer, Mike DesRosiers, gave me a tour of their small, but growing operation.  They are waiting on the first shipment of cans to arrive, at which point they will begin canning their Silver Bay IPA.  While I was there, besides a nice slice of pizza, I enjoyed a glass on their Single Speed Stout,  a glass of their IPA which had been run through a device filled with whole hops to give it an even more intense hop flavor and aroma, and a sample of their Spruce Tip Pale Ale.  They were all delicious, but I really liked the hop-boosted IPA.

BIBC Tap Room.  Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell.
Here are also some pictures from our visit in May to Skagway and Haines, all courtesy of my wife Elaine:

Skagway Brewing is tiny!

Paul Wheeler of Haines Brewing & Chatlie Papazian at the Brewers Dinner.

Part of the 1400 folks who attended the Haines Beer Festival.

Another shot of the Haines Festival.
Lots of good beer in Southeast Alaska; I'm really enjoying writing about it in Volume III of my book.

Moving on to other beer news, there a new beer on tap at the Snow Goose Pub in Anchorage.  It's a Honey Cream Ale brewed with spruce tips.  Usually you'll see spruce tip beers based around a pale ale, so basing on on a honey cream ales is a bit different.  I haven't tried it yet, but I hear it's very good.

Up in Healy at 49th State Brewing Company, things have been hopping all summer.  Here's a video of some of their latest musical excitement.

Tickets are now on sale for their big Augtoberfest event as well.

Denali Brewing Company's excellent Twister Creek IPA is now on draft at The Flats Bistro in Kenai.  Their Single Engine Red Ale was also the first beer poured at the brand-new Hard Rock Cafe in Anchorage.

The big news out of Anchorage is that Anchorage Brewing Company is going to be moving to a brand-new, built to order 7600 square foot brewery on King Street in South Anchorage.  I got the word from last week's column by Jim "Dr. Fermento" Roberts in The Anchorage Press.  Rather than just rewrite it, I think I'll just let you read it for yourself by clicking here.  Look for the new brewery to open in November, if all goes as planned.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company has released the next beer in their new Alaskana series: Cache, an oak-aged bierre de garde at 8.2% ABV.

Glacier BrewHouse has released another new beer today, a Double IPA.  Here's how they describe it:

Double IPA (DIPA) - Hops are the predominant characteristic in this brew. Over twice the amount of hops are used in this beer as compared to our standard IPA. The hop flavor is citrus, floral, and undoubtedly strong, but still clean. The bitterness is intense but held in check with the malt and high alcohol. Unfiltered and reddish-copper in color, this hop monster is a hop head’s delight. Alcohol: 8.20% by volume. Starting gravity: 17.40 Plato (1.072 S.G.)
Photo courtesy of Glacier BrewHouse

I don't write often enough about what my buddy Ben Millstein of Kodiak Island Brewing Company  is up to, mainly because so little of his excellent brews ever make it off The Rock.  But just to give you all an idea of what were missing by not being on Kodiak, I thought I'd share Ben's latest brewery tap list:

Click to enlarge
Makes me want to hop a plane or a ferry to Kodiak...

 For beer reviews, I only have one this week, as I was too busy enjoys beers in Juneau and Sitka to formally review them.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company's  Zzzzz.. Hibernator Doppelbock: The first brew in their new Alaskana series, this beer poured a very dark ruby color with a small tan head.  The nose is smoke and sweet malt, striking a nice balance between them.  Mouthfeel is good and the carbonation level is nice.  On the palate it's the same as the aroma, smoke plus clean malt flavors, well-balanced between them, before falling away to a nice clean finish.  Very drinkable for such a big beer, mainly due to the excellent balance between the smoke and malt. 7.4% ABV, and 25 IBUs.

Well, that's it for this week.  I likely won't have a blog next week, what with the 4th of July holiday and all, so look for a new post in two weeks.  I should have several new brew reviews by then.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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Davidjohn said...
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